Russian restaurant in California gets hateful threats due to Russian invasion

Published: Feb. 28, 2022 at 2:05 PM MST
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SAN DIEGO (KFMB) – A restaurant owner in California says he is dealing with threats because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The name of his restaurant is what’s causing the backlash.

Ike Gazaryan has owned the Pushkin Restaurant in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego for the last seven years. Because the restaurant’s name is Russian, it’s recently been getting calls and threats including one where someone calls Gazaryan a “disgusting Russian ----” and accuses him of killing their uncle and family.

With the war happening in Ukraine, Gazaryan says the calls have gotten progressively worse over the last few days, over the phone and online.

“Someone said they would come by and blow up the restaurant,” he said. “And this is payback for what Russians are doing in Ukraine.”

The bigger problem is that Gazaryan isn’t even Russian, he’s Armenian, and the majority of his staff is actually from Ukraine. Gazaryan hopes people consider these facts before they send any more threats.

“Pushkin Russian Restaurant supports Ukrainian people and their choice for their freedom, their choice for their life and to be able to control their own country,” Gazaryan said.

Gazaryan also says his staff has pooled together money to send to Ukraine, and the food he proudly serves is not dedicated to one location or Russia specifically.

“I basically took the best dishes from different regions and put them on one menu,” he said. “So, saying I have a Russian menu would be a mistake.”

Despite the threats, the thought of changing his restaurant name is off the table, he says.

“I don’t wanna do that, because this is the restaurant that has been here, and the Russians in the United States do support Ukraine and support the people,” Gazaryan said.

He says the food served at the restaurant is for everyone, and he hopes for peace overseas in Ukraine.

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